Fall sports are upon us, and with the beginning of the season come pre-season games. Usually, teams schedule a couple of non-conference games to gear up for SCAC action. The womenâ€™s volleyball team is setting the bar particularly high this year.
On Friday, Sept. 1, the Tiger Womenâ€™s volleyball team will have an opportunity to defeat last yearâ€™s Division III national champion, the Calvin College Knights. Each year, Trinity University hosts the Trinity National Invitational, where teams from all over the country convene in San Antonio to get some pre-conference games in. This year, the Tigers will be hosting teams from Washington, California and Michigan.
Calvin was ranked the number one womenâ€™s volleyball team in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll. The Tigers were ranked 14th in the nation. The Tigers have six starting players returning to the team this season, including 1st Team All-American Kirby Smith and All-Region honoree Madeline McKay. Although the Tigers have a strong core, one of their best assets is the wide range of talent on the team.
â€œThereâ€™s not really one star,â€ said sophomore setterÂ Katrina Lieberman. â€œWe all feed off of each other really well and I think our team chemistry is really good.â€
Assistant coach Aly Lilley said the Tigers are preparing for the game as if it were any other.
â€œWe treat every one of our matches as important as one against a team like Calvin. We are focusing on all skills, but working hard to specifically improve our team defense,â€ Lilley said.
The Tigers rarely think of one match as adequate preparation for the entire season.
â€œAll of our games mean a lot to the team,â€ Lilley said.
Lilley emphasized that all of the matches this year are going to be tough.
â€œPlaying teams like Calvin, California Lutheran and Wisconsin-Whitewater will definitely prepare us to play at a high level consistently and right from the start of our season,â€ Lilley said.
The Tigers play eight different top 25-seeded opponents this season, and six of those teams are in the top 10. During the Trinity National Invitational, the Tigers square off against sixth-seeded Cal Lutheran and 23rd seeded Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
â€œWe have an amazing opportunity to play some of the greatest teams in the country,â€ said sophomore middle blocker Maggi Linker. â€œIt gives us a special opportunity to treat every game the exact same.â€
The Tigers will then travel to Thousand Oaks, California to play in the Cal Lu Fornia Invitational. Theyâ€™ll see even more competition there, facing seventh-seed Claremont Mudd Scripps.
The Tigersâ€™ first game is on Friday, Sept. 1 at 3 p.m. against Whitman College, followed by the 7 p.m. game against Calvin. The Tigers play again on Sept. 2 against Wisconsin-Oshkosh at 11 a.m. and against Cal Lutheran at 3:30 p.m.
The Trinity National Invitational will be held in Calgaard Gymnasium (formerly Samâ€™s Gymnasium). Come support your Tigers! If you canâ€™t make it to the tournament, the games will be broadcast live on the Tiger Network.